English Section Greek Section Company Profile Our Philosophy Testimonials Contact Info Email Us Employment Homepage
Gift Registries Greece Guides Cultural Sites
Greek Islands
Greek Destinations
Search Destinations
Find Hotel
Outgoing packages
Peloponnese | Ilia

Ilia: The Olympic Games

Although no one seems to know exactly when or by whom, the Olympic Games are said to have been founded by the demi-god Hercules. Records survive from 776 BC as the date of the first recorded competition. The games were so important that the ancients began their system of dating chronology from the date of the 1st games. It is more than likely that the games preceded this date.

They were reorganized in the 8th century BC by Iphitus, who instituted for the first time the concept of an Olympic Truce. While the games were under way, and for a period both before and after, all military actions were suspended.  In this manner, "Olympism" came to be associated with peace. During the more than 1,000 years of the games, the territory of Elis was recognized as "sacred" and "inviolable" by the whole of Greece.

The games lasted 5 days and only men and boys were allowed to participate. Girls had their own separate pan-hellenic games, called the "Heraia," held alongside those of the males. The female games were in honor of Zeus' wife, Hera, and were instituted by Hippodameia after her marriage with Pelops, or if you prefer, and more likely, by the council of 16 venerable women of Ellis (600 BC) seeking to promote peace within war torn, over-populated Greece.

The ancient Olympic games consisted of more than just sporting events. The contestants came to be purified so as to partake in a competition innocent of profit. The only tangible prize for victory was a wreath of wild olive leaves. In fact, there was no great sanctuary in Greece that did not link the worshiping of gods with the holding of games and contests. The ancients were extremely competitive. However, the games at Olympia preceded other pan-hellenic games by at least 200 years. Originally, Olympia was both an Oracle and a center for competitions, but, through agreement with Delphi, kept the latter as its main focus, thus separating the physical contest of life with the spiritual mysteries.